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OAK@TEX: Beltre launches a two-run shot to center

ARLINGTON -- Colby Lewis tossed the baseball about 15 times and rode an exercise bike during Tuesday night's 59-minute rain delay at Rangers Ballpark -- anything to help his team end a stormy run of baseball.

The Rangers made it to the World Series because of grinders like Lewis, and if they're going to contend again, they're going to need more performances like the one they got from the unsung hero of last year's playoff run.

Lewis kept himself ready to pitch as he waited to get back out for the sixth inning, and he pushed himself into the eighth as the Rangers distanced themselves from the A's in a 7-2 victory.

The Rangers won for just the third time in 10 games, improving their record to 19-18 as they avoided falling below the .500 mark for the first time this year.

Lewis, who struggled from the outset this season, is back in form. He pitched into the eighth inning for the third straight start, giving the Rangers' beleaguered bullpen a chance to recuperate.

"I knew I was probably going to come back out," Lewis said. "That's what I wanted. Going back out for the eighth, I did some lobbying. We've been kind of working hard, and [I wanted to] go back out and do what I could."

Lewis has been unwavering in thinking he'd get it together after posting a 5.70 ERA in April. It's looking more and more as though he's been right.

"It's a long season," he said. "You play for six months. You can't get down. You can't worry about it from start to start. You're going to have rough ones. You might have two or three of them in a row."

Lewis allowed five hits in 7 1/3 innings, his only mistake a home run by No. 9 hitter Cliff Pennington. Even in that at-bat, Lewis stayed with his plan of pounding the strike zone against the patient A's.

Yes, he allowed a homer, but he came back after the rain delay to work out of a first-and-second jam. He got Ryan Sweeney to line out to left field and Josh Willingham to pop out to second, throwing all fastballs with two strikes.

"Fastball location, that's it," Lewis said. "That's the biggest thing. I knew against them I had to pound the strike zone."

Oddly, the power pitcher didn't have a strikeout, just the second time he's gone without one -- the other time coming in 2007. He had 11 strikeouts in his previous start, at Seattle.

"When you're getting outs, it doesn't really matter," he said.

The Rangers revamped their lineup, and it broke through in the bottom of the fourth. Michael Young, batting cleanup for the first time, and Mitch Moreland started the inning with singles.

No. 9 hitter Craig Gentry followed with a line single between shortstop and third base to add a run.

Beltre, dropped into the No. 6 spot with a 4-for-31 slump going, knocked Oakland starter Brett Anderson out of the game with a towering two-run homer to left field in the bottom of the fifth for a four-run lead. Napoli added an RBI single in the inning.

The Rangers added two runs in the bottom of the sixth on Young's triple to center field.

The cushion certainly aided in the decision to bring back Lewis after the rain delay. But in his mind, and in his teammates', there was never any doubt that he was coming back into the game.

"[The rain delay] wasn't too long," Napoli said. "He's a bulldog. He wanted back out there." Comments